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Updated: December 3, 2010 20:33 IST

Congress Core Group meets

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TV grab shows a scene in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The Congress Core Group met on Friday to discuss the Parliament standoff and developments in Andhra Pradesh.
TV grab shows a scene in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The Congress Core Group met on Friday to discuss the Parliament standoff and developments in Andhra Pradesh.

Top leaders of the Congress, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, held deliberations on Friday against the backdrop of the 16-day-long stalemate in Parliament on JPC issue and the demand for removal of Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas.

Senior Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony, P. Chidambaram and political secretary to the Congress chief Ahmed Patel are among the members of the Congress Core Group, chaired by Ms. Gandhi.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, in-charge of Andhra Pradesh party affairs, also attended the meeting.

Rejecting the demand for a JPC to go into the 2G spectrum allocation issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that the Opposition was using the stalemate as a “political weapon” to obstruct its functioning.

“It is the right of the Opposition to throw out the government. It is not the right of the Opposition to obstruct the functioning of the government. Out of conviction we cannot accept the demand for JPC,” he said.

The meeting also assumes significance in view of the BJP demand for the sacking of Mr. Thomas and the observations from the Supreme Court on his capacity to supervise the CBI probe into the 2G spectrum issue.

Mr. Thomas, who was Telecom Secretary till recently, was appointed CVC by a three-member panel headed by the Prime Minister but not before the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj gave a dissenting note.

Appointed less than three months ago, his name figures in the charge sheet relating to the import of palmolein when he was serving in the Kerala government.

The political developments in Andhra Pradesh which saw a revolt by Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and his resignation as MP as also from the party, besides appointment of new Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy are also likely to have been discussed in the meeting.

Media panel

Meanwhile, the party formed a panel of 15 senior leaders to present its case effectively in the electronic media in the wake of the party facing one controversy after another.

The list includes five Union ministers -- Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Pawan Kumar Bansal, C P Joshi and Jairam Ramesh.

It also includes party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Manish Tewari, Jayanti Natarajan, Mohan Prakash and Shakeel Ahmed.

Other senior leaders who are authorised to participate in the discussion include Girija Vyas, Renuka Chowdhury, P C Chacko, Raj Babbar and Sanjay Nirupam, said party general secretary and chairman of the AICC media department Janardan Dwivedi.

Ms Soni, Mr Azad and Ms Vyas had been former chairpersons of AICC media department.

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